If you’re doing a typical workout, your normal pre-workout routine (a glass of water, a meal 90 to 120 minutes before, perhaps a pre-workout supplement) is more than enough to suffice. However, when you’re gearing up for a truly grueling workout—think a 10K race or a 90-minute CrossFit session—you need to do a lot more to prepare. Here’s how to get your body ready to work:
Have a Lot of Water
You shouldn’t drink a lot of water in the 30 minutes before your training session, but you should make sure to drink at least 1 quart of water in the 2 hours leading up to your grueling workout. You’re far more likely to end up working out in a partially dehydrated state thanks to the fact that most of us drink less water than we should. By making sure to drink extra water, you help to top up your tanks before you sweat all that water out.
Take an Energy-Booster
Energy-boosting pre-workout supplements may be needed to help you get through the workout. You can try BCAAs, nitric oxide, and other natural boosters, or take a bit of caffeine—either in coffee or a caffeinated workout supplement. These supplements will get your body ready to work hard, and will help to reduce the inevitable fatigue of your workout.
Eat a Little Snack
If you know you’re going to be working out for a long time (more than 60 minutes), you’ll want to make sure your energy reserves are full. Have your meal 2 hours before workout, then eat a small amount (200 calories, tops) 30 minutes before heading off to work out. This will ensure that your blood glucose levels are high, so you’ll have enough reserve energy to hit the workout hard.
Pack a Snack
You don’t need to eat anything if you’re just working out for 60 minutes, but a workout that lasts more than 90 minutes will require a little something to snack on mid-workout. Your body only has 400 to 500 calories of glycogen available, and it will burn through those in the hour of working out. Eating a little snack mid-training (no more than 100 or 200 calories) will help to keep you going and pushing through the fatigue.
Bring Plenty of Water
When working out, you can expect to sweat a lot. You may start off only sweating a little, but by the time you hit the hour mark, you’ll likely be drenched in sweat. You will have eliminated a lot of the water in your body, meaning you run the risk of dehydration. It’s important that you always have enough water handy to tank up. You don’t want to drink more than a sip or two at a time, but listen to your body if it tells you to drink water. Keeping up a steady stream of re-hydration throughout the day will help to prevent dehydration.
Replenish Your Electrolytes
When you sweat, your body eliminates a lot of sodium and potassium, the two electrolytes that control your internal water balance. Without enough of these electrolytes, you’re very likely to suffer dehydration. That’s why it’s recommended that you eat a banana mid-workout, or something else (like Gatorade or Powerade) that contain a bit of electrolytes. Your body needs both sodium and potassium in order to contract your muscles, so a lack of electrolytes can lead to reduced exercise performance. Sports drinks are ONLY recommended if you’re doing exercise for more than 90 minutes at a time.